A 52-year-old registered nurse from Cedar Hill, Texas, who owned a home health company, appeared in federal court this afternoon and pleaded guilty to her role in a health care fraud conspiracy, announced John Parker, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
Pat Akamnonu, along with her husband, Cyprian (Cy) Akamnonu, owned Ultimate Care Home Health Services, Inc. (Ultimate). She pleaded guilty this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma C. Ramirez to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, which carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date was not set. Cy Akamnonu pleaded guilty to the same offense and is currently serving a 120-month federal prison sentence. Cy Akamnonu was also ordered to pay approximately $25 million in restitution.
According to the filed factual resume, Pat Akamnonu maintained a valid Medicare group provider number for Ultimate in order to submit Medicare claims for home health services that were medically unnecessary or that were not provided to Medicare beneficiaries.
In her capacity as co-owner and head of nursing for Ultimate, Pat Akamnonu attended at least one meeting where she and co-defendants Dr. Jacques Roy, Teri Sivils, and Cy Akamnonu discussed recruiting additional Medicare beneficiaries to Ultimate to receive home health care services for which they did not qualify and did not need. This meeting also included a discussion about illegal patient recruiting being performed by co-defendants James Veasey and Cynthia Stiger.
As part of the conspiracy, Ultimate exchanged paperwork with Medistat Group Associates, P.A. (Medistat) that was controlled by Dr. Roy for these beneficiaries. These documents were then executed under Dr. Roy’s signature, certifying the patient was under his care. Several of the documents used to certify home health care for these individuals are signed under the name of Pat Akamnonu.
Over the course of a five-year period, from January 2006 through November 2011, more than 78% of Ultimate’s beneficiaries were certified by Dr. Roy or another Medistat physician acting at his direction. Ultimate billed more than $43 million to Medicare for skilled nursing services for these beneficiaries.
Of the seven defendants charged in the $375 million health care fraud scheme led by Dr. Roy, three defendants have now pleaded guilty. Teri Sivils, 47, of Midlothian, Texas, who was Medistat’s office manager, pleaded guilty in April 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for September 21, 2015.
A trial date has not been set for the remaining defendants, Dr. Roy, Cynthia Stiger, 51, of Dallas, Wilbert James Veasey, Jr., 63, of Dallas, and Charity Eleda, R.N., 54, of Rowlett, Texas.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General and the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and was brought as part of the Medicare fraud Strike Force supervised by the Criminal Division Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael C. Elliott, P. J. Meitl, and John DeLaGarza, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana are prosecuting.